This is my letter to a young mother as part of the Mother Letter Project. Please read my previous post for more information.
I am a mother who recently became a mother living in a house void of children. My youngest left for college and I found myself unsure of what my mothering role would now look like. It is different, but I have been reassured that I am still a mother. Once a mother, always a mother. It is just a different phase of motherhood.
This has caused me to reflect on the past 20 years and take note of the different phases of motherhood. There are a few. Just as our children go through phases, so do we. I think if we, as mothers, are aware of this, it gives us permission to grow and transform ourselves right along with our children.
We also need to give ourselves permission to not be perfect, to fail at times, to be human. Not only do we personally need that grace, but our children need to see that we make mistakes and that we can learn from our mistakes. Our children learn so much from us, as parents, and so much of it is from who we are as people, how we treat others, and how we conduct ourselves.
When I think back on the different phases my kids and I have gone through, there are two constants that shine brightly. The first, when I made my children and our family a priority, everything else fell into place appropriately. If I kept my agenda focused on them, it was easier to know what was truly important and what was not. Motherhood is constantly being selfless, but the benefits and blessings are infinite.
The other thing that I feel is very important is making sure you nurture yourself in small (or big) ways on a regular basis. It's important not to lose yourself and/or get to a place where you feel so overwhelmed that you can't be an effective and loving parent. Give yourself a break every once in a while. Find a way to tell yourself that you are more than just a mother. Find a way to find the joy in life and in being a mom. By doing this, you become a better mother.
Before you know it, your kids will be grown and will leave your home. Enjoy each and every stage you encounter while you're with them. There will be heartache, and there will be immeasurable joy. Love them unconditionally, and the love flows back to you. And know that your job as mother is the most important thing you'll ever do.